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Build Patterns for Lead Guitar Improvisation

Aug 23, 2008
A couple of strategies are there to figure out various patterns:

1. Start on the E string on any note of the scale. Keep this fret in your mind . Move up that string playing notes from the scale until the next note would be more than 4 frets from home position (count the home position as fret 1), and place that next note on a higher string. Continue it until you run out of strings.

With this approach you can get standard scale boxes - boxes are great because they help you to hold your hand in the same position throughout the scale.

2. Start on the E string on any note of the scale. For each string, add notes until you have played precisely 3 notes on that string and after that change strings.

You can acquire 3 notes per string scales with the help of this approach - this is good because they have an even number of notes on each string which actually helps with speed runs.

You can acquire 2 note per string scales by changing the number from 3 to 2 or 4, or even 4 notes per string scales (practicable, but very challenging to play, a favorite of Alan Holdsworth I believe). 2 notes per string are especially suitable for pentatonic.

3. Whole neck approach - in this approach we play entire number of scales by moving up 1 string and treat each string in isolation. figure out that there will be great overlap between strings, and work out all the feasible ways of playing an individual note or run on all strings (very hard to do in practice but this is how really top notch performers find things)

That's all what the patterns actually are - and as far as a point of terminology is concerned, I would call boxes a special case of patterns that are constructed by applying rule 1, patterns is a more general term that refers to all possible ways to map a scale to the guitar neck.
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E Walker is the founder of Planet of Rock. Find out how guitar backing tracks will improve your guitar playing skills. Sign up for our FREE guitar affiliate program and start making cash!
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